The Hamptons is often home to fights over McMansions (earlier posts here and here). A new squabble involves a wealthy venture capitalist looking to significantly enlarge his home and encountering opposition:
Ken Fox — whose company, The Stripes Group, has financed Blue Apron and Seamless/Grubhub — hopes to grow his quaint, 1880s shingled home into a 25-bedroom, 14-bathroom “McMansion,” his opponents complain.
“Find another town to destroy,” seethed one petition signer, Olivia Salina.
Fox’s eight-bedroom home — which he purchased for $10.7 million in 2012, known locally as “Mocomanto” — is on both the state and national historic registries, and sits on protected wetlands on the banks of Lake Agawam…
Some three dozen neighbors have joined them in writing protest letters to the zoning board, and as of Friday, more than 300 had signed a change.org petition urging village officials to oppose the plans…
Fox, meanwhile, told The Post through his lawyer that, as planned, Fox’s new house would still be smaller than many of his neighbors’.
Without knowing all the details on the ground, it is more difficult to know the merits of the concerns expressed by the neighbors.
But, this case does point to a broader issue with McMansions: when do communities decide to draw the line? There are several stages at which neighbors and communities can band together and take effective action:
- Before any McMansions are constructed. This, however, requires a lot of foresight. Perhaps some of this foresight is gained by watching what happens to other communities.
- With a few McMansions present. Community members notice changes and don’t like the new direction.
- After plenty of new McMansions have been constructed and the horse is already out of the barn.
I would guess that most disputes with McMansions occur in cases #2 and #3 where McMansions are already present in some number. If so, it may be more difficult to change the rules as the game is being played. If Mr. Fox is correct that there are already larger houses present, are the neighbors simply trying to stop others from joining them in having bigger homes? Or, would this particular structure be such an abnormal monstrosity that it must be stopped?
Since there are already large homes as well as McMansions in the Hamptons, I would argue fights like this one will be difficult to argue for opposed landowners to win in the long run.